Visitation: Thursday, August 31, 2023, from 1-3 PM at the Schipper Funeral Home LTD.
John D. VanWinkle age 84 of Colon, passed away peacefully on Friday, August 25, 2023, at LakeHouse Assisted Living, in Three Rivers, Michigan. The family would like to extend a special thank you to the dedicated and loving staff of LakeHouse Assisted Living for providing such compassionate and supportive care to both John and Marlyn over the past several months.
John was born on October 26, 1938, in Pontiac, Michigan, a son to the late Richard and Catherine (Bailey) VanWinkle. He was preceded in death by his parents and a younger brother, Marc. Surviving John today is his wife of 62 years, Marlyn J. VanWinkle of Colon; his children: Walter (Marcy) VanWinkle of Sturgis, Jon VanWinkle of Marshall, Susan (Rick) Lijewski of Portage; his grandchildren: Kathryn, Andrew, Scott, Morgan, Nicholas, Emily, and 13 great grandchildren. Also surviving are his younger siblings, Lon VanWinkle, Mary Gretchen Skelonc, and Steve VanWinkle, along with many nieces and nephews.
John grew up on the east side of the state and was a member of the Milan high school class of 1956. He went on to achieve a bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern Michigan University, and then a masters degree in educational leadership from Michigan State University.
On June 3, 1961, John married his high school sweetheart, Marlyn J. Schmalholz, in Columbus, Georgia while serving his country as a first lieutenant in the United States Army. After his honorable discharge John worked as a teacher, athletic director and principal in various school districts throughout Michigan, eventually retiring from Colon Community Schools in 1992.
Along with his career in education, John’s passion was for athletics and he devoted much of his life to coaching. He coached football, track and cross country and was named Michigan Coach of the Year for cross country in 1999 and was recognized with many other state, county and local awards throughout his time as a coach. Hundreds of runners over his 40 year coaching career benefitted from his guidance and his passion for running.
John will be remembered fondly for his wry sense of humor, his love of animals, his passion for running, and above all for his love for his family. His legacy lives on through the lives that he’s touched.
Following his wishes, cremation has taken place. Visitation will be held at Schipper Funeral Home LTD. 308 S. Blackstone Avenue, Colon, MI 49040 on Thursday, August 31st from 1:00 – 3:00 p m. with a closing prayer delivered by John’s brother, Steve VanWinkle, at 3:00 p.m. The family will have a private gathering following visitation.